A rare breed is defined as a breed of livestock that is not common in modern agriculture, though it may have been in the past. Various national and international organizations, such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust of the United Kingdom, each define the exact parameters by which a breed may be defined as rare, and many breeds that qualify only have a few thousand or even a few hundreds breeding individuals remaining in the world. These organizations promote conservation of heritage livestock for their unique traits, which may contribute to genetic diversity among animals important to human food supplies and economies, as well as to general biodiversity and improvements in animal husbandry.
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals, raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, hair or wool for textiles, or labor. Livestock are raised for subsistence or for profit, and animal husbandry is an important component of modern agriculture, having been practiced in many cultures since mankind first made the important transition from hunter-gathering to farming.
At first, promoting the eating of rare-breed livestock may seem like an odd way of conserving them. But unlike wild animals, farm stock has to pay its way or disappear forever from the planet.